When it comes to skin, everyone's needs are different, so it can be hard to know where to start when curating a collection of products that will work for your complexion. In my role as a beauty editor, I'm lucky enough to be able to try hundreds of products for work—including the best treatments and the newest skincare launches. But as someone who still deals with acne on a daily basis, I was interested to find out if any of the products I use are genuinely doing my skin some good. Turns out that the rest of the team was just as unsure about the efficacy of their skincare products and regimens (and whether they were making the best choices for their complexion). We needed a skincare expert—pronto.
Enter: Lisa Franklin. An award-winning skincare expert and facialist with a private clinic in Knightsbridge, Lisa is passionate about all things skin and has even created her own range of products to help her clients achieve expert results at home. "I can be blunt, but it's only because I want to help," Lisa explained upon arriving at the Who What Wear offices. "Your skin is your largest organ, so why wouldn't you want to look after it properly?" We'd been warned—things were about to get serious.
Keep scrolling for the 12 things that we learnt we should stop doing immediately, and then shop our editors' skincare routines.
Hannah Almassi, Editor in Chief
"I think my skin is a combination of dry and oily. I seem to get dehydrated skin a lot despite the fact that I drink so much water! But by mid-afternoon, I feel like I look a bit oily and greasy. I'm only prone to spots on my forehead and around my eyebrows in response to eating dairy, and occasionally a few hormonal ones pre-period around my mouth and chin, but my skin is fairly clear in general and not too clogged or problematic. I tend to have fairly sensitive skin all over and like to keep things as simple as possible. I'm lucky that both of my parents have great skin, so perhaps I've just been blessed with good genes!"
Hannah's Current Skincare Routine
"I start my day with a splash of water in the shower, followed by this applied with a cotton pad. Usually, only one pad, as my skin is pretty clear in the morning."
"I follow with a toner, again swept on with a cotton pad. I switch between Pixi Glow Tonic and this when I want a more natural option."
"When I'm not using the cult Augustinus Bader moisturiser straight up, I'll use this serum with another face cream."
"I'll use the serum in combination with this moisturiser at the moment. I change them a lot, although I find my skin responds better to really simple face creams."
"I'm trying to get back into using my Foreo Mini in the evening. I'll use this and then wipe all of my cleanser off with a cloth. But I have to admit I hate cleansing like this and having a wet face, so some nights, I'll just repeat the micellar water and toning process. I'll just make sure to use the micellar water a couple of times to clear off the city grime."
"I'm currently using any face wash I can find but do like Liz Earle. I'll follow this with the same toner I use in the morning."
"I was given a smaller pot of this night cream as a gift and now don't know if I can live without it as it's run out and I love it. Damn."
What I Learned From the Expert
"Stop taking good skin for granted. As someone who favours less over more and has essentially fairly good skin, Lisa informed me that I'm probably taking my skin for granted rather than doing a few small things to make it look its best. She has told me to not ignore what my skin is trying to tell me. As the largest organ in the body, it needs to be fed in the same way that you would feed your stomach or brain! So if it's dry or I sense my dairy intolerance flaring up in forehead spots, listen to it."
"Don't choose products based on scent. She could tell I liked scientifically led products and favoured lighter-weight formulas rather than anything too heavy, but the problem is that I'm just choosing things because of the smell rather than the effect or performance of them."
"Stop switching up your products. I'm chopping and changing my products too much—I should try to stick to a couple of simpler, effective products (she gave me her bioactive Anti-Pollution Cleanser and Luminescent Base to use alongside a toner and an eye cream of my own) and use them for a longer period of time. It's better to start with less, see if any problems occur and then treat from there.
"The cleanser will apparently help with my pore size (they're too big, I think). I am to use it on both my face and neck to keep the skin consistent throughout, using more in the evening to clean off the day's grime and makeup (using a clean muslin each time and with tepid water). I have some underlying redness which will also be eased up by these cosmeceutical creations!"
"Stop skipping exfoliator. For my skin type, I need to exfoliate every two to three days. Lisa would normally recommend a facial per month, but knowing I'm low maintenance, she has suggested per quarter instead."
Mica Ricketts, Deputy Beauty Editor
"I might be 30, but I'm still dealing with the acne-prone skin that I had as a teenager. A long stint on the contraceptive pill helped to keep my skin fairly clear and manageable for the best part of a decade, but since quitting it last year, regular breakouts are standard. My forehead, chin and nose tend to be quite calm, but my jawline and chin are prone to angry hormonal blemishes each month. Combined with my job as a beauty editor where I'm constantly trying new products and testing out treatments means my complexion is pretty haywire, and I never really know what's in store."
Mica's Current Skincare Routine
"It's hard for me to pull together a 'usual' skincare routine, but on normal mornings, I'll either cleanse with this creamy foaming cleanser or just use micellar water to refresh my skin quickly."
"Since adding more vitamin C–based products into my routine, I've noticed a real improvement in the appearance of pigmentation and acne scars. I use this one every morning."
"It's really important to me to wear an SPF every day. This one doubles as a lightweight moisturiser and layers really well under makeup, so I always come back to it."
"At night, I always gravitate toward balm or butter cleansers to remove my makeup and cleanse the skin more deeply. Currently, I'm using this new one from Drunk Elephant. I apply it to dry skin and remove with a muslin cloth."
"Yep, another Paula's Choice product. What can I say? My skin loves this brand. I use this three to four times a week to exfoliate my skin, applying a small amount to a cotton pad and sweeping it all over my face."
"This lighweight serum is infused with salicylic acid to unclog pores. But mainly, I love the smell of it."
"A great moisturiser for oily skin, it provides plenty of hydration without weighing down skin. Plus, it helps to reduce the frequency of breakouts and the appearance of pigmentation marks left behind by old spots."
"I'll use this clay-based mask about once a week to decongest and purify my skin."
What I Learned From the Expert
"Stop using heavy cleansers. Lisa advised avoiding the creamy, balmy cleansing textures I usually gravitate towards and opting for more lightweight formulas like micellar water or her Phyto Gel Wash so as not to overstimulate my pores and encourage excessive sebum production."
"Avoid testing tons of products. My biggest takeaway was how important is it for me to stick to a regular routine of core products in order to see results. Lisa advised that, when required for my job, I test a product once but then follow with my full skincare routine (rather than swapping products in and out). With time, I should see an improvement in the appearance of my skin as it settles into a routine."
"Don't fall for marketing spiels. I'm a sucker for a great-smelling product, but Lisa advised that my acne-prone skin tends to suggest that it's reactive. By choosing clean products based on their effectiveness rather than their scent, I should reduce the risk of irritation. This will be one of the hardest changes for me to make!"
"Stop being lazy about rinsing. Lisa advised me to always rinse away all of my products thoroughly to prevent anything from lingering on my skin and potentially blocking pores. In the morning, she suggested I just use my hands to rinse twice with lukewarm water after cleansing. In the evening, I should use a clean muslin cloth."
Alyss Bowen, Social Media Editor
"To say I have problem skin would be an understatement. For the past year, I have suffered from what I deemed to be hormonal acne, dryness and flaky skin. Sounds hot, right? It’s not. It gets me down on the daily, and no trip to the doctor, no salicylic acid and no laying off the makeup has helped… yet. Lisa gave me some really interesting insights, so keep reading."
Alyss's Current Skincare Routine
"I use this as the first step in my skincare routine, both morning and night."
"After the micellar water, I use the Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Cleanser to give my skin a real deep cleanse."
"I'm currently using Differin 0.1% cream after my doctor prescribed it for my acne."
"I use multiple serums and swear by these ones from The Ordinary."
"I use this serum regularly to combat acne."
What I Learned From the Expert
"Stop avoiding acids. Lisa suggested I switch to her Anti-Pollution Cleanser and use this both morning and night. She also recommended using an AHA-based cleanser, as these are anti-inflammatory. So for now, I think I'll continue to use my beloved Dr. Dennis Gross one as it contains mandelic acid and glycolic acid—both of which are AHA acids."
"Stop with the acne products. Lisa said to stop using the prescribed Differin and instead start taking probiotics and prebiotics, as chin acne is generally associated with the gut. I eat relatively healthy and exercise, but I get stressed quite easily, and we all know about the link between stress and the gut. I also have a huge sweet tooth, so that probably doesn't help. Lisa recommended The Nue Company's Prebiotic + Probiotic, which I had already heard great things about, so I'm looking forward to trying them."
"Don't use serums instead of moisturisers. Next, Lisa suggested not using the multiple serums I use, as she's convinced my acne issues are gut-related. Instead, she said to use her Men's Pollution Defence Cream both day and night."
"Stop avoiding face masks. She also suggested using a clay mask twice a week to help draw impurities out. I'll be trying this Herbivore Blue Clay Detoxifying Treatment Mask."